Note: This article discusses the 77th UNGA session which will be held on 20th September 2022, Kashmir issue, COVID-19, climate change & conflict in Ukraine.
As world leaders gear up for the 77th session of the UNGA high-level General Debate scheduled to be held on 20 September 2022, much is on everyone’s minds. From the global pandemic COVID-19 being far from eradicating, the wrath of global warming witnessed in Pakistan’s floods, the sudden escalation of conflict in Ukraine, and of course, the longest-standing unresolved UN issue that is Kashmir.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will participate in the upcoming high-level debate of the 77th UNGA session in New York, he will address the challenges faced by Pakistan in wake of the recent climate-induced catastrophic floods in the country and long-standing unresolved issue of the Kashmir crisis on 23rd September 2022. While floods and climate change are an issue that is a high priority, the Kashmir issue must not be allowed to take a back seat and many points need to be raised at the UNGA session. Primarily these points revolve around the inhumane policies adopted by the Indian regime toward the Kashmiri people. The points can be summarized as:
- People of Jammu & Kashmir are constantly looked at with unjustified suspicion by the Indian government, including bureaucracy, politicians, intellectuals, and media. This mindset has resulted in Indian Prime Minister Modi adopting oppressive policies ordering Indian Security Forces to crack down on the Kashmiri people. These abuses have exponentially increased insecurity among Kashmiris who live in uncertainty. Here it must be stressed that the sole purpose of UAPA and Sedition Law is to invoke and create an increasing climate of intimidation/fear in an effort to silence anyone speaking out against the government.
- After revoking Article 370 & 35 A, the Indian government has enforced restrictions on freedom of expression, arbitrary detention of hundreds of people, communication blockage, and restraint on peaceful gatherings. All these basic human rights have been denied to the Kashmiri people and are a serious indicator of the world community’s indifference if allowed to continue.
- The Indian government has intensified a crackdown on Kashmiri journalists, civil society persons, and political leaders without evidence and meaningful judicial review through the use of counterterrorism and public safety laws which have been internationally criticized. The harassment and intimidation have led to many journalists either losing or leaving their jobs. In addition, the sudden and forced closure of the Kashmir Press Club in 2022 by the Indian government has further silenced the culture of debate and solidarity amongst the journalists.
- Between 2019 and 2021, the killings of the members of the minority civil community Muslims, Sikhs, and even lower caste Hindus have almost doubled which is in tangent to Indian government claims of normalcy in Jammu & Kashmir. India claimed to bring normalcy after the abrogation of its constitutional article 370 and 35 A, but these lofty promises proved to have been false and India has failed to protect the rights of its minorities.
- Alongside constant intimidation, kidnapping, false encounters, and violence inflicted on the Kashmiri people, the Indian authorities have started unjustified eviction of Kashmiris from their homes and immigration of Indians which is part of a larger plan to manipulate the demographic landscape.
- The Indian government must take steps to increase the representation/participation of the people of Jammu & Kashmir in decision-making processes and demilitarize the region. Otherwise, the current state of affairs must be recognized as no different from a foreign occupation forcing decisions upon the people.
All these points are valid and backed by detailed documentation and observation of foreign observers all well, but to actually make something out of this, they must be effectively delivered to world leaders in the general debate. Much depends on the Prime Ministers’ ability to convey these grave concerns; he must call upon the world to hold the Indian government accountable for the grave human rights violations committed in Jammu & Kashmir and force India to allow for an immediate and independent investigation into such violations on the ground.